Fermenting Adventures: Yogurt Made Easy

I started making yogurt last fall, when my mom bought live culture Greek yogurt from Costco. I’d heard it could be made at home, and I’d done some research into fermenting, so I tried it.

In case you didn’t know, I’m definitely a do-it-myself girl. But I also tend to eat the food in the fridge before making something new. There was half a gallon of newly-bought beautiful Greek yogurt in the fridge. There was only one problem:

The darn yogurt was fat free. This isn’t my fat rant, though, so I’ll just say that the right fat is good for you and milkfat is one of those good fats.

I wasn’t touching fat free anything. Fat free products are, to put it mildly, gross. The yogurt was live culture, though! So I looked up a recipe, scalded some milk, measured the temperature, cooled it correctly, plopped in a dollop of Greek yogurt, stirred, incubated in the oven, strained, and finally had yummy yogurt.

Just thinking of all that effort makes me feel tired. Making yogurt was hard work!

So I stopped making it.

Then I heard about this thing called an heirloom culture. Properly cared for, no other new starter needs to be bought for… Well, ever.

Except yogurt was still too much effort. I tried a couple of experiments with from-scratch yogurt starters, but didn’t make any serious yogurt to eat and nothing really worked because I was too lazy to go through the above tiresome process.

THEN I heard about mesophilic yogurt. There’s next to no effort on my part to make it. I bought an heirloom starter for Caspian Sea yogurt, and started making some.

First batch: totally liquid. But there’s a secret that yogurt has. Freeze-dried starters tend to have the first generation turn out looking like nothing happened… but the milk is still cultured. So I slopped some in my next batch of (still scalded and cooled) milk, set it up in a warm nest in the cabinet, and left it overnight.

It was AMAZING.

Since then I’ve come to a realization: I don’t have to scald the milk. This makes making mesophilic yogurt the easiest thing on this planet.

Steps:
1- pour milk (half & half if you want it really thick and less tart) into jar
2- put jar in microwave for long enough to make milk warm
3- put starter in warm milk; stir
4- put lid on jar; put jar in warm place (or a nest of hot packs, if it’s coldish in your house)
5- wait 12 hours; put yogurt in fridge when it no longer sloshes.

Oh, and….

6 – eat.

Yep. That is how much effort I’m putting into my yogurt right now.

I’m ready to try some experiments, so my effort level will probably skyrocket, but in case you thought making yogurt was hard: it’s not.

Have fun making your yogurt!

Minimalism: The Shoes.

So I’m a barefooter.

Footwear doesn’t get much more minimalist than that.

However, occasionally I must or should wear shoes. I met a lot of disapproval in school when barefoot but didn’t care. I meet none at church from my peers, but my mom showed intense disapproval in that same situation. Barefoot hiking is surely awesome, but the ROCKY in “Rocky Mountains” isn’t a figure of speech. Hiking barefoot in the Salt Lake Valley is uncomfortable, to say the least.

In case you don’t know the benefits of going barefoot, read here to begin some research:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9099/the-surprising-health-benefits-of-going-barefoot.html

For when I cannot or should not be barefoot, there are minimalist shoes. To sum up a lot of information as to why barefootness/minimalist shoes are preferable:

– arch support = BAD.

– squished toes = BAD.

– heel drop (the shoe holding your heel higher than your toes) = BAD.

– heel padding = BAD.

Your arch is meant to support itself. Imagine if you put your arm in a sling and left it there for years. When you tried to use it again, it would be weak and possibly even painful to use it because it had atrophied. You could be more likely to injure it, and a physical therapist’s guidance in rebuilding strength safely might be recommended. The same goes for your arches. If you’ve been wearing shoes for years, especially shoes with arch support, your arch has atrophied and is weaker than it needs to be to support your weight and help you balance and walk correctly.

Toes are meant to splay, working in sync with your arch to help you balance and walk correctly. Shoes deform feet by squishing toes together, similarly to chinese foot-binding. Thankfully, the damage is nowhere near as extensive. However, it still throws off balance and proper alignment. This leads to various joint pains and injuries. Squished toes prevent the proper strengthening of the arch. Common misconceptions in favor of arch support have arisen because of cases where footwear with squished toes and no arch support led to fallen arches.

Heel drop aggravates the issues caused by both arch support and squished toes, but brings its own set of problems. Knee, hip, lower back, upper back, and neck issues are all often caused by shoes where your heel is higher than your toes. This includes but is not limited to heels. Mens’ professional shoes, tennis shoes, and really most conventional shoes all have various amounts of heel drop. For some people, less than 5 mm is little enough drop that they don’t mind. I insist on ZERO drop, ┬ábecause even a few millimeters is enough to give this 18-year-old the knees of an old woman. Shoes with heel drop also encourage heel-striking when walking or running, which is a leading cause of running injuries.

Heel padding also encourages heel-striking by removing the main incentive to not do it. Have you ever tried heel-striking while walking barefoot? It HURTS! A heel strike is when your heel hits the ground first while walking or running. Heel striking injures or strains the body whether or not you have padding to protect your heel when you do it, and yet I distinctly remember my eighth grade gym teacher instructing me to heel-strike! I obeyed, and that semester of school encompasses all of the most painful running experiences I’ve ever had. Personally, I prefer no padding at all in my shoes, but my KSO Treks do have a bit and my Lems are a bit squishy. Both pairs of shoes are still zero drop, so I don’t tend to heel-strike in either, but the padding still drives me nuts and messes with my alignment because I can’t feel the ground.

If this is your first exposure to the idea of minimalist footwear, I encourage you to make it your obsession for a little while to learn more. Maybe even pick up a transition-friendly minimalist shoe. Or just go barefoot more often around the house.

I might not be a total minimalist yet, but I’ve got the footwear down pat. My feet do get sore, even swollen and tired and achy, but my knees and hips are no longer in constant pain. I’ve had significantly less back pain (and now that I think about it, fewer headaches) since I’ve made the transition to living mostly barefoot, wearing minimalist shoes when necessary.

And yes, I love feeling the (dirty, uneven, sometimes hard and sometimes luscious) ground beneath my feet.